Press releases

MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) in urging the Biden administration’s Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to withdraw its Increasing Organ Transplant Access (IOTA) model because it prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals over medical necessity in the organ transplant process.

“Under the proposed model, released through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, hospitals are given payments based on an annual score determined by three factors: number of transplants, organ acceptance rates, and post-transplant outcomes. A successful kidney transplant counts as one point. A transplant given to a ‘low-income’ patient, however, counts as 1.2 points,” the senators wrote.

“This ‘health equity adjustment’ creates a perverse incentive to prioritize transplants, not by clinical necessity, but by arbitrary income levels. Allocating organs should adhere to the principle of equal treatment for all patients, ensuring that no individual is prioritized over another based on non-medical criteria. Further, public trust in the transplant system will be eroded if people believe allocation decisions are being made based on socio-political factors rather than medical necessity,” they continued.

The senators also expressed concerns that the Department’s claim of alleged racial bias lacks clear evidence. They noted that using income level as a stand-in for race in the transplant process is a violation of medical ethics.  

“Proposals such as the IOTA models do little to help real patients and instead satisfy the desires of political activists. We need a health care system that provides high-quality, affordable health care for families and individuals. Rather than address the systemic issues making healthcare unaffordable for millions of Americans, this Administration seems hellbent on virtue-signaling ‘equity’ over the real needs of patients,” the senators concluded.

Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) also signed the letter.

The full letter is available here